The Women's Realities Study seeks to collect from women of all ages, through a series of anonymous questionnaires, their experiences in their own words. It is a study by women for women. If helping others by sharing the realities of your life as a woman, and being curious to hear how other women respond to the questionnaires encourages you to participate in the study, I thank you for your generosity. I hope that giving voice to what you have lived will be an experience of great meaning.
The goal of my study is to collect samples of respondents' stories into a sort of reference book reflecting the realities of contemporary American women so that an historic continuum could be documented. For example, a 70- year old's memory of her first period, the loss of her virginity, or her sense of what a woman "should be" would be juxtaposed with a 25-year old's stories of the same. Since all information gathered will be anonymous, a richness of honesty can be mined and made available to others.
A woman in the comfort of her own home would be able to explore issues of private concern to her. Likening it to a cookbook, rather than looking up "pasta" to find 20 different ways of preparing it, a woman could leisurely, or God forbid, in crisis, turn to the book and look up the topic of interest to her and reference 20 different intimate accounts of what stood out to women who had lived it. This could prove helpful across the spectrum, from a woman curious about handling sexism in the workplace, to a woman attempting to come to terms with having been raped. For those who are very private, or for those who don't have a supportive network, such a reference book would provide a safe haven for information.
About the Study
This study covers by category the major themes of being female. You are welcome to respond to any of the topics on which you would like your voice to be heard, and skip the rest. My hope would be that if participating in this study appeals to you, that you will share this with the women in your world - your mother, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, girlfriends - so that national awareness of the study spreads to all kinds of women in a grassroots manner.
Honesty is asked of you. As I mention in the section explaining my motivation for undertaking this study, as a psychoanalyst I am aware of the fact that many people think they are the only ones struggling with something, and believe they'd be embarrassed if anyone else knew about it. The different ways of experiencing this are endless:
We all have similar questions about how we are different from, and the same as others. I guarantee that something said in your voice will somehow touch someone else in a way that will help them feel known.